Winter’s one of the best times of the year to enjoy quality time with your kids while getting away from your daily work routine. For this upcoming winter season, instead of using your precious vacation time to sit around the house or get stuck in traffic, use this guide to plan out a vacation full of family-friendly winter activities.
1. Phoenix, Arizona
Who says winter activities need to involve snow, slush, and other hazardous conditions? While your winter in Arizona won’t be a sweltering paradise (desert nights can get very cold), you’ll avoid snowploughs and poor weather conditions you might find elsewhere. Places like Phoenix are also good alternatives to popular warm-winter vacation spots like Florida, Mexico, and Caribbean Islands.
What you lack in the snow, you can make up in excellent hiking conditions. Throughout Phoenix, you’ll find many of acres land to adventure, including Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak. If you and your family are up for a day trip, venture outside of Phoenix to Sedona. This desert town is well-known for its scenic views filled with canyons and red rock. You’ll find miles of trails to explore and a handful of sightseeing tours.
There is much more to Arizona than just hiking and great road trips. Take the kids to the Phoenix Zoo, which is one of the world’s largest non-profit zoo in the United States. During the holidays, the zoo is open at night for what they call ZooLights. The entire zoo is filled with millions of lights and festive activities.
2. Portland, Oregon
Not many people think about what winter’s like on a West Coast city like Portland. Head here for your family’s winter vacation and you’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable mix of indoor and outdoor activities unique to Portland and the Oregon coast.
Portland’s big on performances and the holidays are no exception. There’s the Portland Baroque Orchestra, capable of providing a classical winter memory, and some inspiration. Families that are fans of the orchestra can also enjoy the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s winter productions.
A surprising, yet not unexpected treasure your family will be able to enjoy along the Oregon coast is whale watching. The winter watch season here runs around 3-6 weeks, from mid-December to mid-January. There are 24 sites to pick from with annual Whale Watching Weeks, the first being held just after Christmas.
3. Denver, Colorado
Looking to bond with your kids on the slopes or around a fire in Denver?
Denver offers everything you would want for a winter wonderland getaway. There are plenty of ski resorts to choose from near Denver, all of which are family-friendly, offer rental equipment and ski lessons for those looking to ski for the first (and hopefully not last) time. Some of the resorts include Echo Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Winter Park Resort, Loveland Ski, and Arapahoe Basie Ski Area. With so many ski resorts to choose from, it is easy to find inexpensive options.
If it’s your family’s first time skiing, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before heading out. This may sound ridiculous, but the sun still shines during the winter and its reflection off the snow can be more dangerous than direct sunlight.
Although a blast, there is much more to Denver than just ski slopes. You can ice skate at the Denver International Airport. Experience sledding, tubing, dog sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, or even a magical horse-drawn sleigh ride at one of Colorado’s many parks in and near Denver.
If your family is adventurous and loves soaking up the outdoors, Denver should be at the top of your list!
4. New York City, New York
There’s nowhere like New York City during or after the holiday season. Your family can taste fantastic foods, visit iconic movie locations, watch breathtaking performances, and walk through some of the world’s finest museums.
New York City is bustling with family-friendly activities during the winter months. The Big Apple is home to some of the best ice-skating rinks, like the famous rink at Rockefeller Center, LeFrak Center at Prospect Park or the rink at Brookfield Place.
While this location might be a bit more hectic, especially if you are traveling with a larger family, it’ll also be that much more memorable for you and your kids. Getting lost on the subway, experiencing NYC’s odd characters, and seeing the city’s sights are all essential American experiences.
Home is Where to Warm is
As much as you’ll enjoy visiting new places and bonding with your family, it’s important not to lose sight of why you’re out with them instead of home on the couch. Take the time to talk with your family, trade stories, and really bond with them between activities or during the long drives.